Marcu Beza

Writer and literary critic, historian and diplomat, Marcu Beza, of Aromanian origin, was born at Salonika in 1882. He attended courses in letters and philosophy under Titu Maiorescu, then obtained a scholarship in London, where he promoted Romanian culture and literature. He was a reader in Romanian at King's College in London; he edited in 1920 the first Romanian grammar in English and Ion Creanga's Memories from My Childhood, translated by Lucy Byng. He was the first Romanian in PEN Club. Between 1921-1929 he was secretary of the Romanian embassy in London. His studies of English literature materialized in two syntheses, The English Romanticism and The Contemporary English Romanticism. At the same time, he extended his investigations on Romanian history and civilization in Britain, publishing English Travelers on Romanians (1580-1825). Between 1931-1939 Marcu Beza was consul general of Romania to Jerusalem, a period in which he took long trips to south-east Europe, north-east Africa and Asia Minor, resulting in numerous documents and over 600 photographs, slides and films in the archive of the collection, as well as the book Romanian Traces in the Near East (1937) and the manuscript Romanian Traces in the Orthodox East, followed by From the Life of Macedo-Romanians, On the Road, From Foreign Countries, Memory Book. He died in 1949. His collection, comprising 373 objects, was donated to the state by his brother Vasile George Beza and his wife Hortensia, and has been open to the public since 1972. The collection reflects his travels and interests, and although it includes a wide range of items – silverware, textiles, manuscripts, watercolors, etchings, etc. – , it remains unitary geographically speaking, i.e. its main source was the rich cultural area of the Levant. Among the most beautiful and valuable pieces of the Beza Collection is a pair of protective cuffs (epimanikia) from the 17th century, made in a Greek workshop, that follow the traditional line of south-east European embroidery, in silver, gilt silver, and silk thread. The iconographic themes depicted are two great Christian festivals, the Ascension and the Transfiguration respectively. The main attraction of the collection is the "Arab room," dominated by a high wood panel, richly adorned with reliefs and paintings. In the upper part, framing the stalactite motif typical of Islamic architecture, two still lifes stand out in multilobate cartouches against a background decorated with floral patterns. Below, under two religious inscriptions in Arabic, the panel is divided in narrow strips alternating flowers and architectural elements. Underneath is a bed the panes of which embed small wood panels with inscriptions in relief, one of them dated 1215 since Hegira. […]

by Plural magazine